In my last blog post I set out a perfectly sensible framework for when it comes to mindful movement and healthy eating (click this if you missed it). But here is the truth: rules are made to be broken and sometimes "being bad" feels so good. Read on for how to embrace your inner rebel and look cooler than ever.
Rule #1 Plan meals and snacks about 3-5 hours apart
It's true that waiting too long in between meals can cause all sorts of headaches, poor decision making, hangry arguments and even mess with your cortisol levels. From a metabolic viewpoint the idea of eating regular meals is that when our bodies go too long without fuel we and we have used up all our blood glucose our bodies will then turn to our stores to supply energy. Muscle is easier for our bodies to break down than fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, constantly skipping meals then overeating puts our bodies in a vicious cycle which can slow metabolism.
Break the rule
When you're legitimately not hungry don't stress it. Look, your metabolism will not grind to a screeching halt if you don't pull off to the nearest Starbucks and have a protein plate every 180 minutes. If you know you have a meal or snack coming up in the next hour or so and you know you have enough fuel to get you there, no biggie. Also, say you waited a bit too long and had an extra piece of bread at your meal... you're not going to gain a pound of fat instantaneously. Trust your body, it knows what to do.
Rule #2 Plan meals you like
It's crazy how diet/ health foods have changed throughout the years. Remember when bagels were healthy because they were low-fat? Or when kale wasn't even a glimmer in our eye? The point is that we tend to like things because they are familiar. Because mindful eating is ultimately more sustainable than dieting it is easy to confuse mindful eating with habit. But sometimes the things that seem "healthy" or feel good temporarily aren't moving the needle literally and figuratively. This leaves us feeling frustrated, burned out and confused.
Break the rule
Time to do a meal audit. The way I do this with clients is I look at what they normally eat. Then I look at what their dream meal would be. Trail mix is healthy. Protein bars are healthy. But so are tacos. Comparatively, looking at the nutritional information you'll get the same amount of calories yet more vegetables, lean protein, healthy carbohydrates with tacos. Also, clients are less likely to overeat later in the day because they "just had a snack for lunch." Just as self-care isn't all bubble baths and face masks mindful eating isn't all pizza and doughnuts. Taking a closer look at your meals isn't always sexy but it can payoff big time.
#3 Move your body in a way that you love at least three days a week to lower stress levels and boost endorphins
This one. Exercise has so many benefits, from stress reduction to injury rehabilitation and prevention. It can decrease lower back and shoulder pain. It increases flexibility. Studies show that physical fitness is a better marker of health than weight. This means that a body that exercises regularly but is at a higher weight is scientifically shown to be less at risk for heart disease and diabetes than a smaller body that is sedentary and doesn't exercise. Click the link here to learn more about HAES principals.
Break the rule
When you are tired. When you are injured. When you are blowing off friends for exercise. When you've already worked out a few times this week and you don't feel like it. If you're looking to create that ellusive caloric deficit keep in mind exercise only makes up a small portion of your calorie burn for the day. Also, the more you exercise, the better your body gets at conserving calories. Most clients in turn exercise more to compensate for this, which in turn can mess with our body's ability to recognize our hunger and fullness cues. It's a slippery slope, so cut yourself some slack.
If you need help bridging structure and flexibility email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Nutrition Therapy services. To see what clients are saying about the Aligned program click here.
Stay tuned for more!